Disclaimer: As with any such work on this site, I do not own Dragon Age, and I do not own any associated properties thereof. All credit to Bioware for a fantastic world.

A/N: WHO-EEEE! Originally, this chapter began with an overly long letter, which accomplished little besides slowing down the chapter and introducing (rather badly) a character who might not even appear in the story. It is a wonder that I ever thought of it.

Jim Smythe was a busy man.

Little too vague, little too plain. Try again.

Jim Smythe was fond of mail.

Considering the situation at the time, is this snail mail, or chainmail? The whole schizoid tech thing makes for more confusion than there would be otherwise. Again.

Jim Smythe looked over the letter.

Here we go…

It was from Nassa, Mayor of the Company town of Shiloh. Having read over it, he'd learned that firstly, Shiloh continues to grow and thrive. Secondly, the guildsmen were up to something. Thirdly, his stand-in was entrenching his heels, seemingly determined to stay still and do nothing. Finally, the packet that had contained the letter also had the usual reports.

Much better.

As he looked them over, he saw the signs: the loggers' guild were putting forth less lumber than ever before. If their claims to a distinct lack of woods were true, then it pointed to the need for more space. Another sign was the growing quantity of homeless. One report declared that a waiting line had been established to serve them in a more orderly fashion, but the fact remained: there simply wasn't enough space for everyone. Then what's going on in construction? That report declared that all existing projects were coming along nicely. The first apartment complex, an experiment in building tall in order to save on space, had been dedicated to the incoming mage refugees. A guard report displayed an increase in Templar sightings. They're figuring it out… Jim knew, from the years he'd spent pouring over these same reports, issued on a regular basis, that they'd eventually have to go public. It was the only way they could relax their borders enough for expansion. But the Marshal explicitly declared otherwise… And he wouldn't dare to contest her orders, because for all he knew (and he knew that she was gallivanting around the Marches, 8 months ago), she would personally return to the Company in order to contradict any action he took. Jim sighed. I hate politics…

On a sudden thought, he brought out the letter and unfolded it, reading it over one more time. Awww, so she did care. A sobering thought wiped the tiny smile from his face: Then again, I should also try not to be such an ass.

"General Smythe." Jim looked up, into the face of the speaker (who was, by the way, intruding on his thoughts). "Ser," She put her hand forward as an introduction move, "Captain Sethra, 1st Storm Infantry." Jim returned the gesture, shaking her hand.

"The Rail Guns?" The Captain gave a smug grin. The company was 'trying out' (as in, running no less than six different trials through) a new kind of unit: Storm Infantry, rail gunners who were also storm mages. The 1st Storm Company was a flagship for three different ideas: Elven rights, Mage Rights, and, most importantly, small rail arms. For its new allies, the Company needed to show that they were serious in their word, and the Marshal couldn't think of a better unit than the 1st Storm to fly their colors. I would that we hadn't come, though. In an unusual turn, Jim had been the one to argue against a Company intervention. We always seem to bring disaster upon our allies.

"Ser?" The Captain must've been standing there for a while. How awkward, Jim thought, better do something, quick.

"Do you know why the Old Guard uses 'Brodie' as a name, Captain?" Jim gave himself a mental face-palm. Well, now I've made it worse.

"No, Ser?" She gave him the look. The old are you being serious, right now look. Well, when you make a mistake, own that shit. So he did, with a story.

"You stick around us long enough, you'll hear us bitch about how the old days were shit. Some aide to some General nicknamed his superior 'Broody', because the General had difficulty making the decisions that would have kept his men alive. Of course, doing that openly constituted insubordination, 'cording to the General in question, so the aide said nothing to his face. When the General got suspicious, however, the aide made a pun. Instead of referring to the commander as 'Broody', he changed it to 'Brodie', and it stuck."

The Captain tried hard to suppress a smile, reminding Jim about the protocol he was supposed to observe. "Anyway, the aide might've thought hisself clever, but the General was more clever still. When the aide's little rebellion became obvious, the General didn't have him court-martialed. It would've been difficult to get enough officers t'gether f'one man's feelings. Everyone else was a little busy dyin'." In the back of his mind, Jim registered the slow descent into his native accent, but was too lost in his memories to care 'bout this slip. "So what the Gen'l did was he had the sap transferred to the front lines, where the heavy attrition killed 'm in three days. And then the name stuck." Returning to reality, Jim noticed that he was now facing the wall of the cabin. Weeeeellp, better an old fart than a Brodie. He turned to the door to see the Captain standing there, being politely stoic. Business time. "I assume you're here to report?"

She nodded. "We're ready for action, Ser." The and raring to go part was understood. Some report, Jim thought dryly.

"How are your men?"

"We're checked out for all local pests and pestilence. My last count was three sick, Ser, no outstanding health issues." Impressive. "We're ready for action, Ser." And an eager beaver.

"Gather your men into one place, while I speak to Commander Rutherford regarding the need for additional space." Despite the stony demeanor, Jim could see the gears turning in the Captain's head while he spoke.

"Is that all, Ser?"

"I've been hearing word of ambushes being pulled on both sides of the war. As skilled as you are, I'd appreciate you learning how to hold a blade." Anticipating a reaction, Jim quickly raised his hand to stifle her objection. "I'm sure you've heard all the stories about my 'real name', Cap'n, but in my experience, it never ends well for us or our allies-"

"Permission to speak freely, Ser?"

Jim sighed, "Captain, I appreciate an officer who can tell me what I don't know. You may assume it while under my command."

"I'm Dalish, Ser." Oh. Oh shit. That's right, most Dalish still use the blade and the bow. She might already know-

"But aren't Dalish mages trained exclusively in magic?"

"We are apprenticed to the clan Keeper, Ser." So she got some 'private tutoring'.

"That's even more puzzling. Where did you find the time to learn?"

She paised briefly. Need to consider your words Captain?

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! An explosion from the nearby mountain rocked the surrounding countryside. Haven was quickly put on high alert. Captain Sethra looked at Jim, brilliantly blue eyes silently asking for orders.

"Change of plan, Captain. Find the Commander yourself, support the Inquisition troops however he needs. Dismissed!"

Jim followed the Captain outside the cabin, stopping at the door while she raced for the Commander. Gazing in the direction of the Temple of Sacred Ashes, he saw that a new asshole had been ripped in the sky.


A/N: So. My first story. I've been wanting to write this for a while. I think that I've come as far as I can on my own, as a writer. I'd appreciate any constructive criticism, as it'll help me decide how to focus my development.

Edit: False start #1